Indonesia set for repeat contest in 2019 presidential poll

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto waves as he leaves the Constitutional Court in Jakarta August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/File Photo

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Ed Davies

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Former Indonesian general Prabowo Subianto has accepted the endorsement of the main opposition party to stand as a candidate in a presidential election next year, setting the stage for a rematch with President Joko Widodo.

Subianto, who narrowly lost the election, in 2014, to Widodo, is chairman of the nationalist Gerindra Party which forms the main opposition alongside two Islamic parties.

"We have affirmed that Mr Prabowo is ready to be a presidential candidate and has received the party's mandate to proceed as presidential candidate in 2019," Gerindra deputy chairman Arief Poyuono said by telephone from a party meeting.

Gerindra spokesman Irawan Ronodipuro said Subianto had accepted the party's mandate on Wednesday evening.

A presidential candidate needs the support of parties that together won 25 percent of the national vote in the previous legislative election or have 20 percent of seats in parliament.

Widodo, a former furniture salesman, is Indonesia's first president to come from outside the political and military elite. He has gained the support of five parties and is currently well ahead in most opinion polls.

An Indo Barometer Survey conducted in late January gave Widodo 48.8 percent support, with Subianto at 22.3 percent and 28.9 percent undecided.

While in office, Widodo has led a push to build infrastructure though annual growth in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, at about 5 percent, has yet to reach the 7 percent he pledged when campaigning in 2014.

Subianto appeared to improve his political prospects last year after backing a successful challenge by former education minister Anies Baswedan to win the powerful post of Jakarta governor.

But the bitterly fought campaign to unseat the ethnic Chinese, Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a close ally of Widodo, exposed deep religious and ethnic divisions in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country.

(Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel)

Related News

Election in Indonesian capital heads for run-off after tense campaign

Feb 15, 2017

US-INDONESIA-ELECTION:Election in Indonesian capital heads for run-off after tense campaign

Run-off election for Jakarta governor may heighten tensions

Feb 16, 2017

A tight and possibly ugly contest is expected in a second round election for governor of the Indonesian capital that will pit the minority Christian incumbent against a former cabinet minister backed by conservative Muslim clerics

Indonesia Islamists urge ouster of Jakarta governor, plan more protests

Feb 20, 2017

US-INDONESIA-POLITICS-PROTESTS:Indonesia Islamists urge ouster of Jakarta governor, plan more protests